The most beautiful Bulgarian mountain spreads over 65 km (40 miles) between the Struma and Mesta rivers. It covers an area of around 1200 km2 (460 miles2). It was formed as a result of continuous glacial activity, which created the sharp profiles of the peaks, expansive glacial valleys, deep cirques and glacial lakes. It is made up of granite and karst. It has a mountain climate with a strong Mediterranean influence. Mythologists have various explanations for the name Pirin. Its ancient Thracian name, Orbelus or Orbel, means snow-white mountain. There are several Slavic variations -Yudenitsa (from the name of theyudi – fairies, who, according to legend, live in this mountain), Perun (connected with the legend of God Perun, who sat on his throne on Vihren Peak with a bundle of lightnings in his hand throwing them about the heavens) and Perin (spread out). This is also the meaning of the Turkish version, Beride (spread like a fan). According to some research the name comes from the Hittite word perunash (rock) and the Thracian Perintos. And the Bulgarian people lovingly calls it Irin-Pirin in its folklore.
The mountain has three main sections: northern, central and southern. The true mountain is Northern Pirin. Its highest peak, Vihren (2915 m or 9474 ft, second only to Rila’s Musala), Kutelo (2900 m or 9425 ft), Banski Suhodol (2884 m or 9373 ft), Greater Polezhan (2851 m or 9266 ft), Lesser Polezhan (2822 m or 9172 ft), Kamenitsa (2822 m or 9172 ft), Bayuvi Dupki (2820 m or 9165 ft) and more than 60 peaks with a height of over 2600 meters (8500 ft) are here. All the glacial lakes, more than 140, are in this section. The most beautiful are the Bunderishki, Vasilashki, Vlahinski, Valyavishki, Kremenski, Samodivski, Gazeyski lake groups, the Beleme Cirque with the large Tevno Ezero Lake, Popovo (Papazgyol) Lake and many others. More than 20 tourist centres, dormitories and alpine shelters are available for mountaineers throughout all four seasons. The markings are very well maintained. The village of Dobrinishte – the end station of the Septemvri – Dobrinishte narrow-gauge rail line – is situated here in the northeastern foothills of this northern section. In the vicinity of the village, within a 1 km (6 mile) radius, there are 17 thermal mineral springs with a water temperature from 28°C to 41.5°C (82°F-107°F), which are used for health spa treatments. Central Pirin is overgrown with mostly broadleaf forests. Its highest peak is Orelyak (2099 m or 6822 ft), followed by Baba, Chala, Senoto and Murata – all under 2000 meters (6500 ft). There are no lakes here as the terrain is karst and absorbs water. In this section there is only one marked route and two tourist centres. Southern Pirin is the largest in area, but is the lowest. The forests here are mainly coniferous (spruce, pine), mixed with beech. The highest peak is Sveshtnik (1975 m or 6419 ft). There is also only one marked route and no holiday homes.
There are 4 reserves within the territory of Pirin: Tisata, Orelek (in central Pirin), Bayuvi Dupki-Dzhindzhiritsa and Yulen. The last two fall within the borders of the Pirin National Park, which covers almost the entire northern section of the mountain. One of the oldest reserves, Bayuvi Dupki, shelters the natural, relic forests of white fir and Austrian pine. In Yulen, there are also age-old forests of white fir, white pine, spruce, pine spruce and pine brush. A few Austrian pines can also be found. Seven hundred species of high plant life have been confirmed, some of which are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria.
There are many cultural and historic locations in Pirin, which tourists would see with pleasure. The pearl of Pirin is Bansko – its gateway to the world. The Popina Laka holiday home is situated in the valley of the Bashlitsa River, 18 km (11 miles) from Sandanski. It consists of an expansive meadow, surrounded by old, mixed forests with private villas, hotels, and eating and entertainment establishments. The climate of the resort is mild, with light winds and relatively low humidity. The Waterfall of Popina Laka is situated in this region; it is beautiful and with a high quantity of water. The waterfall has been declared a natural landmark.